During a press conference today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees acknowledged that new COVID-19 cases had reached what they described as a “plateau,” or a flattening of the curve in new infections and hospitalizations. Over the past week, The Capitolist published several stories illustrating the slowdown and gradual decline in new cases. Today, the DeSantis administration officially acknowledged the trend, but cautioned against relaxing protective measures.
“We are in a plateau situation, but cannot emphasize enough that we cannot let our guard down at this present time,” said Rivkees. “Until we get a vaccine, which is going to be a while off, this is going to be our new normal, and we need to adapt and protect ourselves.”
A chart DeSantis showed during the press conference told the story: fewer cases on Sunday than Saturday, and no big spikes in the past week:
But the overwhelming message from DeSantis’s administration was that Florida should get used to this new reality: a protracted battle with coronavirus.
“We need to continue to focus on the measures that can protect us all against COVID-19,” Rivkees cautioned. “Again, I wish to emphasize the importance of avoiding crowds, six foot spacing, if we are going to be in gatherings, it should be less than ten individuals. We should all consider wearing a mask in public in the event we are asymptomatic spreaders.”
As Rivkees advised Floridians to hope for the best but prepare for the worst, expert modelers were adjusting their projections downward for the Sunshine State, far below the dire outlook initially predicted, which painted a picture of overwhelmed hospitals and scenes mirroring the carnage in New York and other major metropolitan areas.
The latest updates show even the hardest hit counties in South Florida – Dade and Broward – still have excess bed capacity, and an updated projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) revised the hospital capacity projections dramatically downward – a slowing of the curve that now puts the peak of the virus outbreak as late as May 3rd, while revising the worst case hospital capacity scenario to just 13,000 beds versus more than 20,000 available in the state.
Today’s evening update showed that new cases went up slightly to 1,124 infections, a three-day high, but still far below the all-time high set a week earlier at 1,279 cases. Today’s uptick came after a record number of test results came back: more than 14,200 in all, with a refreshingly low positive test rate of just 7.89 percent. New hospitalizations were 104 higher today compared to yesterday’s extremely low 65, with 169 new patients admitted. That metric, while high, has been relatively erratic, with ups and downs over the past week. The state peaked at 216 new hospital admissions on April 9th.